“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”
~ William Faulkner

Happy day-after Independence Day (if you’re living in or are from the United States)!

Yesterday, when I hopped onto my Instagram account, I paused, feeling an opportunity to potentially offer something a little more than a Happy 4th fun photo with fireworks. I wanted to post this photo simple to express how awesome of a land I think the US is.

As I looked at the photo, I felt this wave of gratitude wash over me for this strikingly beautiful and diverse country in which we live. We do have so many freedoms.

This particular photo reminds me, though, that “freedom isn’t free.” Not in the ultra patriotic militaristic way that phrase is often used but in the holy-$hit-we-took-over-this-country-in-a-violent-savage-way way. People paid a price.

Pete and I are walking through Native American lands in this pic.

Yesterday, in addition to celebrating our freedom in the US, I also reflected upon what our ancestors did to get it, and the responsibility that implies for our current generations.

I hope to be less violent in my own life and part of that is be more aware of the many faces of violence.

To acknowledge the violent history of the country I call home doesn’t make me any less grateful to be an “American.” I AM SO FREAKING GRATEFUL FOR THIS COUNTRY. But nuance is life. It’s complicated. It’s not black or white. It’s both. And everything in between.

Secondly, this photo shows me freedom because I’m free to choose my partner – male or female or gender fluid, able bodied or with disabilities, my race or another, my sexual identity or another. We live in amazing times! Marriage is hard sometimes. It’s an honor to get to choose Pete day-by-day.

That feels like freedom to me, too.

Pete and I are trying to support each other on life’s newest path by focusing on one another, not our stress, fear, or doubt. We see those things – we’re not denying that they’re present for us – but we’re doing our best to feed the hope and gratitude instead. We challenge one another constantly with one of my favorites: “Which wolf are you feeding?”

As of 2 months ago, we live in the DC area again (2nd time for Pete, about the 5th or so time for me). When this photo was taken a few months ago on our CO to NM to AZ to UT back to CO roadtrip, though, the cross-country move east was looming on the horizon. Our hearts have been heavy about leaving Colorado, but there’s so much to be grateful for as we transition into this next stage, too.

So with all of that (are you still reading?! ????) I wish you a belated Happy Fourth of July Independence Day holiday! ???????? Celebrate what makes you feel free, and give thanks to those who made it possible.